An interesting planning application came before the planning committee on 9 October 2013. I was substituting at the meeting for another councillor but was aware I was likely to remain on the committee for the remained of the municipal year. However, the week before the meeting I had submitted a representation to the committee objecting to an application to build a house on greenbelt land in Houndsfield Road, Tidbury Green. Because I had pre-determined my view I could not vote on the application but did address the committee accordingly.
The relevant planning application is number 2013/1396 and it sought to erect a dormer bungalow and garage on green belt land opposite to number 26 Houndsfield Lane. The report by the borough’s planning officers can be viewed via this link: http://eservices.solihull.gov.uk/mginternet/Data/Planning%20Committee/201310091630/Agenda/$Report%20by%20Head%20of%20Development%20Management%20(80K%20bytes)%20-%20att39932.doc.pdf . Officers recommended the application be refused and because of the dangers in allowing housing development on green belt land I sought to support the view of the officers. I was also extremely concerned that to allow one property to be developed on a green field site might serve to be a precedent and that the remaining land in Houndsfield Lane might also be subject of planning applications. The site plan can be viewed here: http://eservices.solihull.gov.uk/mginternet/Data/Planning%20Committee/201310091630/Agenda/proposed_site_plan%20(325K%20bytes)%20-%20att39933.pdf We must also be concerned that the Local development Plan, which was adopted only last week, was still awaiting acceptance from the planning inspectorate and if there were delays in getting it ratified, examples of the local authority actually agreeing to build on green belt land not in the LDP might prove to be damaging to the local plan.
This application was not destined to go before the planning committee but the developer contacted all three ward councillors asking for us to support a call for it to be addressed by the committee. This allows for developers to address the committee itself, whereas this would normally be dealt with under delegated powers (by the Head of Planning and Chair of the Committee). I refused to have the matter brought before the committee but one ward councillor did agree. The councillor, as is her right, actually supported the development on this green belt land and sought to criticise Tidbury Green parish council for not objecting to a proposed traveller/gypsy site in Dickens Heath Road. It was shame this was done (see bullet point 4 in ‘representations’) because the traveller site is in Dickens Heath parish and not Tidbury Green.
I urged the planning committee to refuse the application citing that any development on green fields in the countryside must have an holistic approach and must not be piecemeal, one plot at a time. This is why the Local Development is so important to the borough – it will help us fight totally inappropriate development. The officers reasons for recommended the planning application be refused are compelling and can be read on the final page of the officers report.